Review: PARTY FAVORS (So Over the Holidays #4) by Erin McLellan (2020)

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Year Release: 2020
Source: Kindle

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Amanda Ellis is an heiress who wants to break free of her family’s expectations and painful heteronormativity. Wren Rebello designs lingerie and seeks to be taken more seriously as a romantic partner. The two are best internet friends and, on a whim, decide to do a friends vacation at a cottage for New Year’s Eve.

Much like the book itself, this review will be short and sweet. The emotional journey these characters go on together is so swoon-worthy, but this is no way a slow-burn when it comes to the erotic. It starts real quick, and it does not abate. If anything, it escalates to some highly horny sequences of self-discovery featuring sexy consent and sex toys galore.

ARC Review: UNMASK ALICE: LSD, Satanic Panic, and the Imposter Behind the Worlds Most Notorious Diaries by Rick Emerson (2022)

Genre: Adult Nonfiction
Year Release: June 7, 2022
Buy Links: Unabridged Books

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an Edelweiss eARC
Content warning: suicide (graphic, on-page), child abuse, gaslighting, fraud, drug abuse, ritual abuse, religious abuse, violence

Go Ask Alice is a book that floated on the periphery of my awareness during middle school. Usually featured as a banned book, I had the vaguest knowledge of its contents. The title of this non-fiction investigation into the origin of this reviled book piqued my interest. I fell into it like being swallowed into a can of worms that covers American politics, the inner workings of publishing, and heart-wrenching stories of families in way over their heads when it comes to their children’s adolescence and mental health.

The story behind the “memoir” is a wild ride from start to finish. It touches on the war on drugs, Satanic panic, ethics in publishing, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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ARC Review: FLOTSAM (Peridot Shift #1) by R.J. Theodore (2022)

Genre: Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy
Year Release: February 1, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read a NetGalley eARC
Content warning: deicide, dismemberment, murder

I had the opportunity to read the original release of Flotsam when it had been under Parvus Press. But in February 2022, the book is being re-released with Robot Dinosaur Press. There have been a few updates in the prose, but largely the story has stayed the same.

It’s the same delightful steampunk meets first contact story about a pirate ship in search of a magic ring which may or may not throw the balance of magic and godhood off in search of power.

An interview with author R.J. Theodore will be going up on release day, February 1, 2022.

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ARC Review: ECHO by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (2022)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: February 8, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books | Libro.fm

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read a NetGalley eARC
Content warning: falling, disfiguration, vomiting, body horror, violence against birds, suicide (both discussed and depicted)

Sam Avery’s boyfriend, Nick Grevers, is an avid mountaineer who goes into Alps one season and an accident occurs. Nick’s climbing partner Augustin perishes while Nick returns with supposed amnesia and a face completely bandaged up. In an effort to give his boyfriend closure and healing, Sam races against time and nature while supernatural madness unfolds. While Nick might have left the mountain behind, it certainly back with him.

Echo taps into several sources of primordial dread, like losing the one we love in ways less permanent than death, tall men who are slightly too tall, and sleep deprivation demons.

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ARC Review: BASE NOTES by Lara Elena Donnelly (2022)

Genre: Adult Thriller
Year Release: February 1, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read a NetGalley eARC
Content warning: murder, manipulation, blackmail, gore, eye surgery, strangulation

Vic Fowler is an artist, a perfumist whose business is struggling as they’re trying to achieve the height of luxury and artistry in New York City despite everything about their lifestyle pointing to the contrary. They are threatened with blackmail in exchange for a commission—that’s right, the perfume is made of people. A saga of desperation, aesthetic, murder, and dissatisfaction follows hence forth.

Tonally, it reminded me a lot of A Certain Hunger with its voicey protagonist who’s really three anxiety attacks in a well-tailored blazer. At least they smell beautiful.

An interview with author Lara Elena Donnelly will be posted on February 3rd, 2022.

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ARC Review: ALL THE WHITE SPACES by Ally Wilkes (2022)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: January 25, 2022 (UK); March 29, 2022 (US)
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books | Libro.fm

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read a NetGalley eARC
Content warning: starvation, grief, gore, dead dogs

A polar expedition to the South Pole goes terribly and having a stowaway on board isn’t even one of the myriad problems plaguing the Fortitude. Jonathan Morgan is trans and grieving his brothers who he lost in the great war. Eager to take their place on the adventure to Antarctica, he hides out on the ship. Discovery isn’t his only problem. Things start going downhill very quickly as the ghosts from his past become everyone else’s terror as well.

Comparing this book to the show, The Terror, and Alma Katsu’s The Hunger with more queers is honestly the most perfect description.

An interview with author Ally Wilkes will be posted on UK release day, January 25, 2022.

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ARC Review: WHERE THE DROWNED GIRLS GO (Wayward Children #7) by Seanan McGuire (2022)

Genre: Adult Fantasy
Year Release: January 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org| Unabridged Books | Libro.fm

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read an ARC from NetGalley
Content warning: fatshaming, fatphobia, bullying

Cora’s door led to a world of Drowned Gods and mermaids. She returns to Eleanor West’s school still haunted by her experience and requests a transfer to the cruel Whitehorn Institute, where normalcy via suppression and repression is the rule of those halls. I found this entry much darker than those that came before it in ways that are less fantastical than eeriness of the worlds behind the doors.

This is an entry in which it is required to have read previous entries, despite how the back cover summary sounds. For the most relevant contextualization, Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3) and Across the Green Grass Fields (Wayward Children #6) are essential.

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Review: LEATHER AND LACE (The Southern Gothic Series #1) by Magen Cubed (2021)

Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
Year Release: 2021
Source: Kindle

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content warning: blood play, violence, murder, autopsy

Vampire Dorian Villeneuve and cowboy Cassius “Cash” Leroy are hunters going against all sorts of cryptids, from vampires to mothman to the pair of weredeer hunting others for their hearts. Partners in crime, but it seems they both want to be partners in much more.

This book is a goddamn delight with a compelling friendship-turned-romance that’s as easy to invest in as the mystery behind the grisly murders.

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Review: TENDER IS THE FLESH by Agustina Bazterrica (2020)

Genre: Adult Literary Fiction Horror
Year Release: 2021
Source: Audible

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warnings: cannibalism, slaughterhouse machinations, humans as sustenance, sexual abuse, rape, blood play, violence against puppies

In the alternate universe in which this book takes place, a virus has made all meat poisonous to humans, except for that certain hunger. The rest is told from the perspective of Marcos, a worker at one of the facilities whose life is falling apart. Until he’s “gifted” with a female, and things get worse from there.

While low on plot and shock value beyond its conceit, the ending punched me in the face on a journey that is very frank with its depiction and high in its interiority.

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Author to Author with Juliet Kemp

The Marek series is about the eponymous city-state whose magic flows through a contract with a being known as the cityangel. From an attempted coup to a demon on the run to a civil war, there is no shortage of intense set pieces, tender character moments, big magic, and other epic fantasy delights.

I’m thrilled to host Juliet Kemp on the blog to celebrate the paperback release of The Rising Flood. They talk about putting the series together, the inspiration behind the world, and what they’re working on next.

Buy Link: Elsewhen Press

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